Sydney Roosters hooker Jake Friend is confident he is not vulnerable to further health problems by playing out the season.
SCOREBOARD: SYD 31-30 NQL
|at Sydney Football Stadium, September 19 2014|
|Tackles:||Jake Friend (SYD) – 44|
|Hit-Ups:||Jason Taumalolo (NQL) – 22|
|Offloads:||Michael Morgan (NQL) – 3|
|Run (m):||Jason Taumalolo (NQL) – 236|
|Sydney Roosters: D Tupou 2, M Jennings, M Pearce, J Maloney tries; J Maloney 5/6 goals; J Maloney /1 field goals
North Queensland: E Lowe, G Cooper, J Thurston, R Lui, M Scott tries; J Thurston 5/5 goals
Friend lost over two litres of blood a fortnight ago and was rushed to hospital with a life-threatening lung condition.
There were serious concerns about the 24-year-old’s wellbeing, with his prospects of getting back on the field far from the most important thing on the minds of his partner, friends, family and the Roosters club.
But Friend, one of the toughest athletes in the NRL, recovered in time to take the field for Friday night’s epic 31-30 elimination final win over North Queensland at the Sydney Football Stadium, punching out 65 minutes and an ironman-like 44 tackles.
Next week the Roosters go up against the might of South Sydney’s hard-hitting forward pack in a blockbuster grand final qualifier.
Despite the fact Friend’s condition came about due to repeated knocks to the chest, he believes he is not susceptible to more damage.
“It shouldn’t reoccur,” he said.
“I’m confident in my body and the medical staff, otherwise I wouldn’t have played. I was confident (last night) and I’ll be confident for next week.
“The way the doctor’s explained it, it was just repeated bumps. I was sore and a bit short of breathe. That was the main thing.
“I did everything during the week so I was pretty comfortable and confident going into the game.”
Mystery has surrounded exactly what went wrong for Friend, and he admits he is not quite sure himself what caused him to collapse in the shower at home following the Roosters’ clash with Melbourne.
Friend credits his girlfriend – who found him and called an ambulance – for being his “rock” through the ordeal.
“I didn’t really understand until I woke up in hospital,” he said.
“I didn’t know it was that bad. It’s a bit scary when you think about it. I’m just glad that it was a quick recovery and I’ve been able to get back and play footy.
“My (girlfriend) she’s a rock. She was there for me the whole time. She was all good. Mum came down as well so it was good to see her.”
Friend’s time off the field on Friday coincided with the Cowboys’ comeback from 30-0 down to tie the match up with 24 minutes remaining.
The influential number nine returned when the match was on the line, and it is no coincidence the Roosters were able to return to their structures and stop the rot.
Friend says he could have probably played out 80 minutes if required, indicating he will be able to go the distance next week against the Rabbitohs.
“I was blowing a bit in the first stint. Once you get past that first stint you get back into it,” he said.
“I probably could have kept playing.”